Sunday 11 October 2015

Arid Terrain mat.

My Severan Rome collection for the western armies make use of an arable terrain mat, but a similar size mat for the east was lacking. The material used is identical to what I use for roads, rivers, low hills and other terrain feature – 2 mm thick linoleum floor covering.

I started with a mid-brown base coat and layered in random sections lighter shades. The final step added some detail and highlighting to complete the arid terrain mat. The colour of the mat is identical to the base colour of the troops with the small exception of Spring grass seen around the feet and hooves of the figures

Allowing for drying time this took in all about two days to paint. 

The photos here were taken to control the quality as photos will generally pick up any flaws overlooked with a quick glance. For this step I added a village, a number of mountains and a variety of scatter material to break up the barren dry terrain. 

Photo one.

This is the mat after the first application of ground colour. At this point attempted several methods of applying highlights using brush and sponge.

Photo two.

For the sake of uniformity, the hilltops were also treated in  a similar manner.

Photo three.
Dry grass scatter material spread about the board and clustered as a terrain feature to serve as Scrub. 

Photo four.

Acacia trees also serve as scatter material and add the only green to the arid terrain board. 

Photo five.
The Pre-Islamic Arabs assemble for their next foray 

Edited 12-10-2015

Thank you for the enthusiastic reception.
I would like to share some extra tips if you are going to make a similar mat.

First coat.
Acrylic paint, colour mid-brown or wood brown was applied with a brush and let dry overnight.
The application on the linoleum material will not crack or peal, but letting it dry overnight will ensure any successive coats from lifting off or thinning your previous coat.

Second layer.
Using a tray or plastic container I mixed some brown with orange then lightened the mix with white.
This time I used a natural sponge found at most paint stores and daubed the mix lightly over the board.
Make irregular patterns and keep in mind you will be applying a lighter shade covering a smaller area afterward.

Final layer.
For this last step I experimented with two methods of application.
After cleaning the sponge I dipped a small tip directly into white acrylic paint.
The wet sponge will help spread the white such that it appears light grey.
The alternative method used a plant spray to moisten small areas and daub the white paint with the sponge.
This softened the effect which contrasts with the harder edged areas.

Scatter material.
The grass is fixed to 1.2 mm thick triplex which is covered with a sand and glue mix.
Paint in the same colour scheme as the mat.    
The grass is 6mm long tufts from Leadbear of Australia 
From the photos you can see Barry offers a wide selection.  

The trees are Woodland Scenic build your own pack.
The branches can be bent and turned before applying the foliage.

As these were to represent Acacia trees (also found in the Middle East) I bent the branches so the final effort would appear as near to the real thing. 


  1. Very well done. A smart table and terrain adds much to the visual impact.

  2. Thank you for the kind words.

    Even play testing I will add scatter material to liven the ambiance. I have Late Romans sparing against Germans with Sarmatian Allies.

    The board looks full even with a minimum of terrain features; two woods, one plough and a road with a judicious use of shrubbery and small single trees.